By Shannon Donohoe, SPT
Now that winter is in full swing here in upstate NY, many of you have been hitting the slopes. While being active and being outdoors is great for both your mental and physical health, sometimes ski or snowboard trips don’t always go according to plan. You may have hit that jump wrong, gotten your pole jammed, or just left the mountain with seemingly random aches and pains. Physical Therapists can help you recover from common ski and snowboard injuries and even show you tips and tricks for prevention so you can shred all season without fear!
Injuries that occur on the mountain vary, especially between skiers and snowboarders. Both populations are inherently at risk for head or neck injuries, particularly concussions. The best way to prevent this type of injury is to wear a helmet that is properly fitted to yourself. If you do suffer a concussion, seeing a health care provider is probably at the top of your list. Did you know that Physical Therapists are more than qualified to help manage a concussion?
At all levels of skiing, the injuries you are most at risk for are lower extremity injuries, particularly at the knee. It’s common to see many ACL or MCL sprains or tears in downhill skiing due to the torsional forces from equipment, stance, and fall mechanisms. PT’s are experts at both prevention and rehabilitation from this kind of injury. They can help you with overall strength and stability and even help you fine tune your landing and stance form to help minimize the forces being applied to the knees.
While skiers are more at risk for lower extremity injuries, snow boarders are more at risk for upper extremity injuries. Usually these injuries are from falling out onto your arms, common injuries include wrist fractures and shoulder dislocations. The cause of these vary from inexperienced riders falling onto an outstretched arm to experts in the terrain park landing on their arms.
The important thing to know is that there are ways to minimize the risk of these injuries as well as recover afterwards. Studies have shown that core stability and neuromuscular training may be beneficial in preventing falls while skiing and snowboarding. Physical Therapist’s are experts in this kind of training! They can break down your landing mechanics as well as your normal stance to help train your body to move in the safest way possible. If you feel you are at risk or just want some advice, PT is a great resource!
- Weinstein S, Khodaee M, VanBaak K. Common Skiing and Snowboarding Injuries. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2019;18(11):394-400. doi:10.1249/JSR.0000000000000651
- Concussion and Traumatic Brain Injury. Apta.org. http://www.apta.org/TBI/. Published 2020. Accessed March 4, 2020.